Cutting holiday costs

How to reduce holiday spending – part 2

Gift giving can leave many struggling to pay off bills months after the holidays, so here are some more simple strategies to help lessen the financial impact of the holidays (here is part 1 of How to reduce holiday spending, in case you missed it).

Play the weather

A streak of stormy weather prior to Christmas can mean discounts as retailers try enticing shoppers to visit their stores. This is becoming increasingly true for shops without an e-commerce presence, as they must lure shoppers away from sitting comfortably at home and clicking their way through the online jungle.

Use & swap gift cards

Search your drawers for gift cards with unused balances. Using them for your shopping may help ease the holiday cash flow challenges. If they’re for stores not carrying what you’re looking for, try trading them for store cards that do using sites like this one. Here are some tips for making the most of your gift cards.

Leave the plastic at home

Shopping with cash rather than credit cards helps you stay on budget and avoid that dreaded January card statement. Research shows an increasing trend of holiday shoppers also buying for themselves (roughly 56%), with those aged 18-24 among the highest spenders. Carrying a limited amount of cash helps you avoid many impulse buys. If you have racked up some purchases on your credit card, here’s a 5 step guide to lower credit card debt.

Turn off your senses

Retailers create a sensory experience to get us to buy. Touch, smell, sights and sounds are all deployed in full force during the Christmas holidays to put us in a shopping mood:

  • Carols to remind us of festive childhood memories
  • The scent of cinnamon to remind us of Grandma’s fresh baked pies
  • Strategically placed items beckoning us to touch and then acquire them.

While we can’t avoid exposure to all of this, tactics like shopping on a full stomach or keeping our hands in our pockets can help fight the impulses.

Don’t be fooled by percentages

Do your research ahead of time to get a sense of pricing on the items you are looking for. Ever wonder why some stores seem to always have 50% off? It may be 50% off the suggested retail price, whereas another store may be much cheaper at 40% off a much lower, everyday selling price. Price bots such as Google shopping and Shopbot will help you compare prices online. Here are some more tips for shopping sales.

4 things to buy on sale during May

Consider second-hand

While not everyone may appreciate a used gift, a friend that frequents thrift stores or vintage clothing stores may welcome your environmental conscience.

Hard to find books, memorabilia, retro items, artistic creations or kids’ toys are possible good secondhand gift ideas. Craigslist, Kijiji or Veragesale are great websites for gently used or brand new items at low prices, without the added taxes.

Keep your receipts

After your purchase, check to see if some of your gifts go on sale. A price monitor will alert you of price drops. Stores offering a 14 or 30 day price guarantee will make an adjustment, with many stores only requiring the presentation of the receipt (here are some tips on how to price match like a pro).

And for more timely cost-cutting advice, read part 1 of this series.

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